Fix the sales dip before it happens

Many businesses experience a seasonal sales dip, but three simple actions can help iron these out.

There are some industries and trades that have obvious trends and sales patterns. For example, the wedding industry will have a sales peak during the summer. Similarly, gas engineers will experience their biggest sales volume during the winter months.

However hidden dips can also occur when revenue and sales activity is left untracked. From a financial viewpoint, being unprepared for such an event will affect cashflow. I often come across business owners who cite lack of time as a reason for not tracking sales activity, but this process is vital in business. It’s the first of my three actions to fix the sales dip before it happens:

1. Keep records and review

I urge you to keep a record of your sales activity by month, as far back as you can. The more data, the more valuable the insight. A spreadsheet is all that’s needed, with columns for the month alongside sales volume and revenue.

Use this data to create a year on year performance chart, this is a really simple and visual way to spot trends.

I went through this process with an English Language school who fortunately had kept attendance records for the previous 5 years. When we looked at the years side by side we spotted a recurring sales dip each May. With this insight we planned a marketing campaign to attract new students for May, thus ironing out their sales dip.

2. Look forward as well as back

Just as important as reviewing what’s already happened, is tracking advance sales. This is known as your Order Book.

For example, a client of mine who is a wedding photographer does just that. Each time a sale is made for a future wedding, the revenue that wedding will attract is attributed to the month it will come in. That way, he knows well in advance how the coming months/year looks and can plan for any gaps.

3. Plan ahead

I’ve alluded to this already, but of course the reason for tracking past and future activity is to enable marketing planning, the aim of which is a revenue line with no major sales dips.

Sales dip

I’ve gone into more detail about actions to achieve this in my next blog: 6 Marketing Tips for Seasonal Businesses.

As ever, if you need any help implementing my advice, why not contact me for a free new business review? I’ll spend two hours with you giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.

Doug D’Aubrey.

6 Marketing tips for seasonal businesses

Don’t let the dip get you down! There are plenty of of ways to keep sales afloat for seasonal businesses.

If you read my last blog: Fix the sales dip before it happens, you’ll know how to spot forthcoming dips in sales. In this post, I’m sharing 6 activities you can undertake to iron out that dip.

Marketing activities

Research your customer base

While it may be obvious for some businesses why some months are slower than others (for example a seafront cafe in Cornwall relying on tourists will be quiet in winter), there are some businesses who may have identified patterns in sales that are unexplained.

In order to combat these quieter times, the first step must be to understand why they occur. A simple survey of your existing customer base could uncover some facts you can use to your advantage. Include questions to find out why they don’t purchase at certain times.

An example of this might be a stationers, whose sales always dip in August. The reason for this may be that many of their clients take holiday at this time, rather than a change in their requirements. With this knowledge, a plan of action can be implemented.

Give people a reason to buy

With your new knowledge, you can give people a reason to buy.

A beauty therapist will typically be busiest during summer and at Christmas, when people want to look their best for holidays and parties. Offering discounts or packages over quieter times could be enough to keep customers coming. For example, selling treatment courses at a discounted rate over winter or spring. Add to this clever messaging, perhaps suggesting this will ensure a tip top appearance for the start of summer, and you’ve sold the benefit to off-season purchases.

Target a niche

Is there a niche corner of your market you can target? For example gluten free/allergen suitable cooking for bakers/caterers. Ensuring your product or service is suitable for all areas of the market could mean you capture sales from your competitors.

A client of mine who is a wedding photographer has kicked off a marketing campaign for winter brides. Showcasing examples of winter wedding photography is helping win business from competitors who don’t promote them, and in the off-season too!

Diversify your product offering

A popular way to maintain year round sales is to diversify. If you operate a seasonal business, is there another market who could use your services in the off-season, or is there another product you could offer your usual base?

For example, a gas engineer would try and fill their summer months with boiler services, knowing there will be less breakdowns.

Alternatively, a busy weekend bar or restaurant could target mid-week corporate clients with a venue hosting package.

Find more information about diversification in my blog: Diversification: 3 ideas to increase sales.

Stay in touch

Ensure you keep front of mind for your customers by staying in touch all year round. Share stories about what you’re up to, share useful tips, and even try to create interest by sharing emotive content. A seaside guest house sharing images of log fires, hot chocolates and winter walks could create desire and demand for an off-season break.

When to market for the low season

With all your actions in place, the only thing left is to decide when to implement them. This is a simple case of understanding how long it takes your business to move consumers through the buying process.

If it takes three months to turn a prospect into a closed deal, then ensure your marketing is active at least three months before the dip. Remember that prospects need to see your content a number of times before they might be ready to purchase.

If you’d like help to implement any of my advice, why not contact me to arrange a Free Business Review? This is a genuinely free 2 hour session whereby I’ll come into the business and spend two hours giving you advice for immediate implementation. Click here to arrange yours now.